We sought to estimate the extent of decision regret among primary care patients and identify risk factors associated with regret.
Secondary analysis of an observational descriptive study conducted in two Canadian provinces. Unique patient-physician dyads were recruited from 17 primary care clinics and data on patient, physician and consultation characteristics were collected before, during and immediately after consultations, as well as two weeks post-consultation, when patients completed the Decision Regret Scale (DRS). We examined the DRS score distribution and performed ordinal logistic regression analysis to identify predictors of regret.
Among 258 unique patient-physicians dyads, mean ± standard deviation of decision regret scores was 11.7 ± 15.1 out of 100. Overall, 43 % of patients reported no regret, 45 % reported mild regret and 12 % reported moderate to strong regret. In multivariate analyses, higher decision regret was strongly associated with increased decisional conflict and less significantly associated with patient age and education, as well with male (vs. female) physicians and residents (vs. teachers).
After consulting family physicians, most primary care patients experience little decision regret, but some experience more regret if there is decisional conflict. Strategies for reducing decisional conflict in primary care, such as shared decision-making with decision aids, seem warranted.